Lake Mary voters return Commissioner Justin York to office

Justin York
York soundly defeats challenger Kristina Renteria.

Lake Mary voters showed overwhelming approval Tuesday for City Commissioner Justin York, handing him a resounding victory over challenger Kristina Renteria.

York’s reelection endorsed his record and pledges to continue working to redevelop the downtown area into a live-work-play community, using some of the $8 million the city is receiving in federal grants.

With all votes counted, unofficial returns showed York with 73% to Renteria’s 27%.

Outside of Lake Mary, the only contested races in Seminole County Tuesday were in Oviedo, where Mayor Megan Sladek won reelection over Kevin Hipes and Abe Lopez, while challenger Natalie Teuchert ousted City Council Member Judith Dolores Smith.

Elsewhere, Sarah Reece already had won election unopposed as a Lake Mary Commissioner, and Altamonte Springs City Commissioner Jim Turney won reelection unopposed.

Lake Mary is a north Seminole County suburb straddling Interstate 4. Like all of Seminole County, its population grew rapidly over the past three decades, from about 5,000 in 1990 to about 17,000 in the 2020 census. The residents struggle with traffic. Unlike much of Seminole County, it now is largely built out and has managed to develop a sound mix of residential and commercial, with the lowest property tax rate in the county.

But there are older neighborhoods in need of redevelopment, and there are limited opportunities for new housing.

York sees opportunities in the older central city where federal dollars could go toward septic-to-sewer conversions, and money could be used to improve the center’s infrastructure.

York, a lawyer, told voters it’s time to fill in strategically, with projects such as Drake MidTown Lake Mary, and the development of bungalows and duplexes around the downtown area.

Renteria, a certified public accountant, spoke of her vision for a more cautious approach to redevelopment, to avoid anything too dense. She spoke of the adjacent SunRail station as an opportunity to make the downtown more of a destination. She said she envisions trolleys moving people between the station and the downtown area.

Scott Powers

Scott Powers is an Orlando-based political journalist with 30+ years’ experience, mostly at newspapers such as the Orlando Sentinel and the Columbus Dispatch. He covers local, state and federal politics and space news across much of Central Florida. His career earned numerous journalism awards for stories ranging from the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster to presidential elections to misplaced nuclear waste. He and his wife Connie have three grown children. Besides them, he’s into mystery and suspense books and movies, rock, blues, basketball, baseball, writing unpublished novels, and being amused. Email him at [email protected].


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